What is address data?
The UK has an official list of building addresses and their locations – ‘address data’. This data is a vital resource for building public and private services that rely on locations, and is part of our national data infrastructure.
What’s the problem with it?
At the moment, the UK’s address data is expensive, hard to access, not always accurate, and hard to correct. This causes problems for businesses and other organisations that rely on address data – and ultimately it affects us all.
What impact does this have?
Poor address data might seem an abstruse concern – but it causes real-world problems.
Some homes struggle to get post or register for services
If an address is not recognised by insurance companies, a homeowner may not be able to get insurance at their new flat. An address that is not recognised by the NHS might mean that someone cannot register for a GP.
This problem particularly affects people who live in a place with an unusual address or in a new-build property.
It affects vital public services
Addresses are currently stored in different ways in different computer systems. So attempts to match or link data across computer systems, such as to find out which patients needed to shield from Covid-19, cost more, take more time, and are less accurate.
It’s harder to innovate
An innovator in a business or civil society that wants to develop a new service that uses address data has to spend time and money navigating the complex intellectual property issues around that data. This takes time, costs money, and can be frustrating.
Rather than building their service, the innovator may choose to do something else or start up in a different country.
Slowly, the UK becomes less competitive
Administrative reference data, like addresses, is a key building block of the new digital infrastructures that a 21st-century economy relies on. Other countries are making this data freely and openly available – the UK needs to catch up.
Share your story
Have you been affected by poor address data?
We’d like to hear from
- third sector bodies
- public sector organisations